5 Key Learnings from the 2020 IFA Annual Convention

February 14, 2020

Categories: Best Practices, Events

Earlier this week, thousands of franchisors, franchisees, and franchise suppliers met at the International Franchise Association (IFA) Convention in Orlando, Florida. This annual convention is the IFA’s biggest event for business development, as well as personal and professional growth. There were sessions and resources for established and emerging franchise networks.

Many speakers and presenters spoke on the fact that sustainability is a big issue in franchising. Twelve thousand franchise systems were created and failed in the past 30 years.

In order to create a successful franchise system you need to get the right growth-ready infrastructure in place.

Here are Four51’s 5 Key Learnings on Creating a Successful Franchise System taken from the 2020 IFA Annual Convention:

1. Invest in creating strong, growth-ready infrastructure to ensure state-of-the-art franchisee support.

Making sure you have the right people and tools (systems, technology, and infrastructure) in place to handle your growth is key to your ongoing success. In order to grow, you need to focus on making the job of the franchisee simple and efficient so that they can be profitable.

“Internal infrastructure is key to franchise growth.” Michelle Holliman, VP of Franchise Development, Pig Tails & Crew Cuts

2. Don’t underestimate the power of company culture and trusting teams.

As a franchisor, you need to create a culture of excitement and teamwork if you really want to grow. That starts with your first ten franchisees. Be picky and choosy to make sure those first units really embody the culture you want to create. That will be your base to grow on.

“Successful franchise systems are built on culture.” – Don Fox, CEO, Firehouse Subs

3. Focus on adopting and implementing innovative technology in order to stand out

Whether it’s technology that adds to the customer’s in store experience, or technology that makes the life of franchisees easier, innovative technology needs to be part of your future-thinking strategy. 

“You can’t think the same way you always have if you’re going to continue to keep up.” – Ron Stillwell, CDO at Marco’s Pizza

4. “Being the best” is not a point of differentiation

To become a successful franchise system, you need a concept that is unique and scalable. Ask yourself if you have a system that can be repeated and if the world really needs what you have to offer.

“To be a player in the infinite game, you need an idealized state of the future that you’ll work towards and sacrifice everything to create.” Simon Sinek, Keynote Speaker

5. The Franchisor-Franchisee relationship is important

It’s extremely difficult to succeed if your “franchise partners” aren’t totally bought in. Avoiding resource offerings that they need to be both successful and self-sufficient is going to lead to failure. Communication can break-down, trust can be lost, and failure is mutual. 

“A lot of franchisees aren’t business people; make their life easier and they’ll make you more money.”  – Unknown Franchise Business Solutions Roundtable Moderator


Four51 has spent the past 20+ years helping franchisors create operational efficiencies and grow franchise units. We deliver scalable eCommerce, order management, and B2B marketplace solutions that support franchise growth.

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